Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘planned parenthood’

Komen for the Cure: 6 Months After the Planned Parenthood Storm

July 31st, 2012

Lisa Dawson

It’s been six months since the news broke about Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s changes to its grants policy, resulting in a loss of funding eligibility for Planned Parenthood. Three days later, after a public relations maelstrom and outrage from many of its affiliates, the organization reversed its decision.

Impacts to individual Komen affiliates since then has varied greatly, with the Puget Sound Affiliate hit especially hard. The annual gala auction on March 3rd raised more than expected, but June’s Race for the Cure came in $700K below goal. As the Affiliate’s largest fundraiser, this shortfall will most certainly reduce the availability of free mammograms and patient assistance funds for women in Western Washington.

Earlier  this month I had the opportunity to meet Komen President Elizabeth Thompson, who shared her perspective on the conversations leading up to the Planned Parenthood announcement. As with any polarizing news story, it can be challenging to ensure the accuracy of information shared in the media.

Liz didn’t offer excuses.

Rather, she accepted responsibility for the mistakes of the organization’s leadership, fully acknowledged the gravity of the situation, and spoke to the lessons Komen continues to learn from this crisis. She believes the foundation has a responsibility to continue to tell the breast cancer story, but in “a better and different way.”

Liz also talked about some significant changes being made at the national level:

  • A strategic communications firm has been retained to help with immediate and long-term communication plans, something that was painfully missing during the days following the announcements. Efforts will also be made to increase transparency into the organization’s decision making process.
  • Komen’s Board of Directors has traditionally held one of its nine positions for an affiliate representative. This is being increased to two positions.
  • Among other leadership changes, the organization has hired a new General Counsel and is in the process of hiring a Chief Operating Officer.
  • Seven Regional Vice President positions have been created to serve “as a two-way communications conduit between Headquarters and Affiliates, ensuring Affiliates stay informed of and aligned with Headquarters initiatives, and that Affiliate perspectives and needs are heard and responded to at Headquarters.”

Komen is currently focused on addressing ongoing impacts to local communities, where the anger and disenchantment of supporters is having a direct, negative effect on fundraising efforts. Here in the Puget Sound region, the decrease in funds will result in fewer breast health services for underserved women. With the year’s remaining major fundraising events scheduled for October, the Puget Sound Affiliate has its work cut out.

This has been a challenging time for everyone involved with Komen, but I stand firm in my commitment to the organization’s efforts.

How about you? Six months later, how do you feel?

Occupy Komen? Unclear Objectives for Gala Protest

March 2nd, 2012

Lisa Dawson

Anyone who’s followed the Komen and Planned Parenthood-related SLOG posts knows The Stranger hasn’t been a big fan of the organization, at one point calling for readers to picket the Komen Puget Sound Affiliate‘s gala auction on March 3.

So when a link to today’s post “Occupy Seattle to Protest Breast Cancer Fundraiser Tomorrow” appeared in my inbox I was prepared for a revived call for protesters. Instead, I found a counterpoint to the Women of Occupy Seattle’s objective:

Here’s the problem: Protesting the event won’t take money away from the GOP-humping slimeballs at Komen national; what it does is hurt low-income women in the Puget Sound area—the very women these protesters are hoping to support.

Exactly.

Many people don’t realize our state’s Breast Cervical & Colon Health Program (BCCHP) is heavily funded by Komen Puget Sound. The money raised at last year’s auction helped fund $2 million in local grants, including more than $1 million to the BCCHP so they can provide breast cancer screening to more uninsured women in our state. The Affiliate also directly funds screening grants for other organizations like the South Puget Intertribal Planning Agency and the YWCA. The Puget Sound Affiliate of Komen isn’t perfect, but they do have a long track record of stretching every penny raised to fund successful breast health programs in our state.

To Ms. Madrid’s point, Komen dropped the ball on communications when news of Planned Parenthood’s grant eligibility broke. I’m glad she finally had the opportunity to get the local affiliate’s perspective. I wonder if the Women of OS tried to do the same?

Planned Parenthood Urges Komen Support – What Are You Going to Do?

February 5th, 2012

Lisa Dawson

Seattle Times, February 5, 2012

“Women need all of us working together”

Planned Parenthood of the Greater Northwest ran a full-page ad in the Seattle Times today, urging its supporters to support their continued partnership with the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

I’ve talked to a lot people over the past few days, many of them long-time Komen supporters. We’re grappling with the same questions: How do I feel about the Komen/Planned Parenthood/political debacle? Should I continue supporting them? How will my decision affect the women served by Komen-funded programs in my community?

Komen isn’t the only organization I give time or money to. Over the years I’ve supported a number of local causes, almost always because I have a personal connection to their mission: SAMA Foundation because I’ve seen how teen drug addiction rips apart a family, March of Dimes because both my children were born prematurely, National MS Society, Powerful Schools, the list goes on.

But few have resonated with me in the way the Puget Sound Affiliate of Komen has. I believe in their mission. I’ve seen the results of the work they do, the support they’ve provided my family, friends and colleagues. And contrary to some opinions, they are one of the financially leanest organizations I know.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very frustrated at the way grant policy changes were decided, implemented and communicated. But I’ve spent the past 15 years working with the Affiliate and I don’t see myself walking away because of this. I am, however, thinking of ways I can support them locally without supporting Komen national.

To all you past Komen supporters, how are you feeling?

Komen Revises it’s Policy, will Continue to Fund Planned Parenthood

February 3rd, 2012

Lisa Dawson

Yes! Komen just announced they have decided to revise the policy that resulted in Planned Parenthood’s ineligibility for Komen grants.

The Komen website and blog appear to be down, so I’ve copied the text of the statement from CEO Nancy Brinker and the Board of Directors here:

We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives.

The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.

Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation. We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair.

Our only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer . Amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process. We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.

It is our hope and we believe it is time for everyone involved to pause, slow down and reflect on how grants can most effectively and directly be administered without controversies that hurt the cause of women. We urge everyone who has participated in this conversation across the country over the last few days to help us move past this issue. We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics – anyone’s politics.

Starting this afternoon, we will have calls with our network and key supporters to refocus our attention on our mission and get back to doing our work. We ask for the public’s understanding and patience as we gather our Komen affiliates from around the country to determine how to move forward in the best interests of the women and people we serve.

We extend our deepest thanks for the outpouring of support we have received from so many in the past few days and we sincerely hope that these changes will be welcomed by those who have expressed their concern.

It’ll be interesting to see the short- and long-term impacts this mess has, not only on the National organization, but the local affiliates.

Komen Puget Sound Expresses “Extreme Disappointment and Frustration” to National

February 2nd, 2012

Lisa Dawson

The Board of Directors and staff of the Puget Sound Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure sent a letter to Komen CEO Nancy Brinker expressing their frustration with the new grant policy, and reiterating a message they evidently sent to the Foundation’s headquarters last month.

Signed by Board President Joni Earl and Executive Director Cheryl Shaw, the letter reads:

Dear Ambassador Brinker and Ms. Thompson:

The Puget Sound Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure Board of Directors and Staff express our extreme disappointment and frustration with the new grant policy adopted by Komen National. As we communicated with Komen National last month on behalf of our Board and Staff, we believe that this policy is overly broad and strips the authority from affiliates to determine how to best serve our local communities with the funds entrusted to us by our donors. We were further dismayed at Komen National’s failure to consider feedback from the affiliates before taking this action.

We believe this policy is misguided and respectfully reiterate our request that the policy be rescinded or revised to permit greater flexibility to the affiliates to evaluate grant applicants and, together with Komen National, determine whether an applicant should be ineligible for funding.

We must consider the implications of this policy on women worldwide.

To the Affiliate staff and Board, I say: Thank you for taking a stand against a national decision that hurts the community you serve.

View the full Puget Sound Affiliate response letter to Komen national

What NOT to do When Your Nonprofit Makes a Big Decision

February 2nd, 2012

Lisa Dawson

I just read Kivi Leroux Miller’s excellent assessment of the (presumably unintended) consequences of Komen’s decision to implement a new policy: The Accidental Rebranding of Komen for the Cure.

Komen for the Cure, it seems, is no longer a breast cancer charity, but a pro-life breast cancer charity.

Kivi talks about Komen’s dead silence following the news about Planned Parenthood, when they could have been thoughtful and proactive with  communications regarding their new policy.

By not responding at all to the overwhelming negativity being thrown their way, and continuing to pretend that this has nothing to do with a red-hot social issue, they are alienating a big part of their constituency.

Yep, Komen completely dropped the ball.

This is what’s most frustrating. I know a lot of pro-choice women who support both their local Komen affiliates and Planned Parenthood chapters. We recognize the value of the programs and services funded by Komen. We’re passionate about finding a way to stop breast cancer from killing 40,000 women a year. We want to work with Komen, but Komen has to work with us.

It’s Not Just About Planned Parenthood: Komen Funds Other Vital Breast Cancer Services, Too

February 1st, 2012

Lisa Dawson

Yesterday I voiced my opinion that Susan G. Komen is being short-sighted in its decision to halt funding to Planned Parenthood. Since then there’s a been, as my husband says, “a total shit storm” of backlash against the national organization, and by extension the local affiliates. The immediate reaction of many is to sever all ties with Komen.

Please consider the impacts to other vital programs before making a decision to stop supporting local Komen affiliates.

Here in Washington State, two specific programs funded by Komen Puget Sound come to mind: The Washington State Breast, Cervical & Colon Health Program and the Komen Patient Assistance Fund at Cancer Lifeline.

  • The Washington State Breast, Cervical & Colon Health Program (BCCHP) provides free breast cancer screening (an subsequent treatment if indicated) to low-income women. This program was at risk of disappearing a dozen years ago, when it looked like state budget cuts couldn’t provide enough funding for it to meet Federal matching fund criteria. The Komen Puget Sound affiliate stepped in with funds to cover the gap, and has continued to partner with the state ever since.

    Today, Komen contributions provide mammograms to women who fall within 251-300% of the federal poverty level. That covers people who have an income, but are uninsured or carry only catastrophic health insurance. Think single moms, college students and the temporarily unemployed.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very frustrated by Komen’s decision on Planned Parenthood. But…

I’m not willing to sacrifice the other programs that rely on funding from the Puget Sound Affiliate.

Komen & Planned Parenthood: Breast Health Programs Will Suffer

January 31st, 2012

Lisa Dawson

I’m stunned, saddened and frankly a bit ticked off by today’s news that Susan G. Komen is halting funding to Planned Parenthood. I’ve been a supporter of Komen Puget Sound since 1997: I served three terms on the Board of Directors, have participated in several committees and currently co-chair the annual auction. I’ve literally helped raise millions of dollars to provide breast health education, screening and treatment services for women in Western Washington. I’m also a big fan of Planned Parenthood, and always felt these two organizations were well-matched when working together to address challenges in women’s healthcare.

One of the things I’ve always admired about the Puget Sound Affiliate is that their grant funding criteria is based on priorities determined by a community needs assessment. They deliberately fund organizations that are best positioned to serve women in the vastly different communities in Western Washington. For those of us who live in the greater Seattle area, access to health care screening is pretty easy, even if you need financial assistance. For women in rural areas however, there are few options for low-cost healthcare and Planned Parenthood often fills the role of provider.

Last year, Puget Sound awarded a $52,000 grant to Planned Parenthood to provide breast exams for underserved women in Clallam County, and I know they’ve funded grants in Whatcom, Skagit and other counties in past years. Komen’s extensive grant review process and stringent reporting requirements tell me that Planned Parenthood does a good job running these programs.

While I was mulling over Facebook and Twitter reactions to today’s news, a co-worker stopped by and asked me what I thought about all this.

My take:

  • I feel Susan G. Komen, at a national level, is being short-sighted and limiting the ability of some of their affiliates to fund critical breast health screening in the communities they serve, and I’m going to tell them that (you can too: 972-701-2168 or news@komen.org). I’d also love to hear how they propose those gaps be addressed.
  • I suspect Planned Parenthood is going to see a short-term bump in contributions in response to this news. Unfortunately, the investigation that prompted Komen’s actions will probably drag on for a long time.
  • I also suspect there will be a decline in Komen donations and event participation, which will impact their ability to fund other grants to other organizations. A very unfortunate chain reaction.

I’m going to continue to support Komen.

Here’s why: I know our local Komen affiliate is the best organization in Western Washington at raising breast health awareness and funds for research, screening and treatment programs. I know there are at least a dozen organizations besides Planned Parenthood that rely on Komen Puget Sound funding to provide mammograms, or hold much needed support groups. I know there are women who need the type of financial assistance provided by the Komen Patient Assistance Fund to avoid being evicted while going through chemo. And I know there are active research programs and studies that are funded by Komen. I will continue to support both Komen and Planned Parenthood, because I believe both organizations provide much-needed services. But I’m not going to be quiet about it.

What are you going to do?